Using dash cams to film what happening on the road

Are dashcams legal in B.C.?

“I have a question about the dash cam that I use while driving around in Vancouver every day. I see a lot of interesting driving, if you know what I mean. That said, I am wondering if I am breaking any privacy laws. Either way, could a police officer use my video to give the driver a ticket?”

The Personal Information Protection Act applies “to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by organizations in a manner that recognizes both the right of individuals to protect their personal information and the need of organizations to collect, use or disclose personal information for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances.”

Trying to decide what this legalese requires can be difficult, so here information from an article from the Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner dealing specifically with dash cam video.

According to the article, video of individuals inside a vehicle or walking on a sidewalk or crosswalk is the personal information of those individuals and, with a few exceptions, can only be collected with the consent of those individuals.

But can people who are just going about their daily business on public streets consent to be filmed by a car-mounted camera as it scoots past them at an intersection? Most likely they can’t.

Video taken by a private individual for personal use in a public place such as our highways is not something that someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy from. That exemption is found in Section 3 of the PIPA.

Unless exempted by law, such as the collection of video inside a taxi, by journalists or a public body, PIPA prohibits a commercial organization from doing so without the consent of the people involved. Before you equip your company vehicles with dash cams, it might be wise to obtain legal advice.

There is an article on reporting bad driving to police on this site for guidance.

If you choose to do so, your dash cam video can be used as evidence in traffic court but you need to be properly prepared and present at the trial to verify the content.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Meeting a wide load on the road

Moving oversized loads

“Could you do an article on wide commercial loads when a pilot car is used? The reason I am asking is I almost got run down once when a wide load came over into my lane, oncoming, to swing wide in order to make a right turn. Understandable, except there was no warning because the pilot car had already made the turn and was nowhere in sight."

Wide-load, long-load and the dimensional signs that flash amber lights, as well as pilot cars, are all part of moving an oversized load on B.C.'s highways.

They do the job of advising surrounding traffic something out of the ordinary is present and they must prepare for the possibility of taking extraordinary action because of it.

The combination of actions that must be used is contained in the conditions attached to the oversize vehicle permit that authorizes the move to take place. These conditions may require the use of one or two pilot vehicles to precede or follow the oversized vehicle in order to warn approaching traffic a hazard exists.

The Commercial Transport Act Regulations even go so far as to specify the distances pilot vehicles must maintain from the load they are escorting.

The province has created a manual, Pilot Car Load Movement Guidelines, that is intended to clarify, enhance and support the conditions for travel that are set out in provincial permits for oversized and overweight loads.

The TranBC website has a page titled 9 Clues to Solving the Mystery of the Pilot Car to help you understand what to do when you meet an oversize load.

In your case, because the pilot car did not provide direction, the ultimate responsibility lies with the driver of the vehicle carrying the oversized load.

In order to encroach on your lane, or do anything else out of the ordinary, it must be determined that the movement can be carried out safely, without unreasonably affecting other traffic.

It is a heavy responsibility as traffic is often reluctant to slow, wait or move out of the way and there may be short sight distances involved.

The driver of a pilot car may give instructions to traffic, such as holding a stop sign out of the driver's door window. Failing to obey these instructions could result in a fine and penalty points.

As you will see in the various examples of case law on the DriveSmartBC.ca website, a driver does not always have the exclusive right-of-way. The presence of pilot cars along with signs and flashing yellow lights on the oversized load indicates you may have to do something other than carry on.

If you fail to adapt to the situation, you may be held partially responsible for any ensuing collision.

Knowing this, when you approach an oversized load from any side, you must be prepared for the possibility you may have to slow, stop or change lanes to facilitate the movement of the oversized load.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Bike racks can't obscure licence plates or vehicle lights

Hitch-mounted bike racks

“I have a question about rear hitch-mounted bike racks, which are readily available in stores. We use one with four bikes on it for our family and when the four bikes are loaded, they obstruct the view of the rear licence plate, brake lights and turn signals. The corner lights can be seen through the spokes of the bike wheels but not clearly. Any opinion on this because these are widely used?”

You seem to have described the problems associated with this type of bicycle carrier clearly yourself.

The Motor Vehicle Act Regulations state, under the General Maintenance section:

4.04 (2) Lamps and reflectors required by this Division

(c) must not be shielded, covered or obscured by any part of the vehicle or load or by dirt or other material.

Lights and reflectors on the rear of the vehicle must be mounted as far apart as practicable.

The hazard might be greatest during the day when bright sunlight coupled with this obstruction prevents the brake or signal lights from being visible to a driver following you. The resulting rear end collision would certainly be considered to be at least partially your fault.

With regard to the license plate, the regulations state:

Plates to be unobstructed

3.03 A number plate must be kept entirely unobstructed and free from dirt or foreign material, so that the numbers and letters on it may be plainly seen and read at all times and so that the numbers and letters may be accurately photographed using a speed monitoring device or traffic light safety device prescribed under section 83.1 of the Act.

In order for enforcement by intersection safety cameras to be effective, the rear licence plate of the vehicle must be able to be photographed. When they are not, the driver of the vehicle may be issued a violation ticket with a penalty of $230. It appears that police currently issue about 100 of these tickets each year in B.C.

Before you scrap the rack, or sell it to some other unsuspecting purchaser, it could easily be made legal again. Moving the license plate to the back of it along with duplicating the lights that are obstructed on the vehicle would not be expensive or difficult to do.

It appears these solutions may be purchased on line for less than the cost of the obstructed plate fine.

Unfortunately, what is not clearly stated with these is if they are compliant with the rules and are marked accordingly with the appropriate DOT codes.

You may wish to buy from a reputable vendor so the item can be returned for a refund if it is improper.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Trade your ticket for driver training

Education over punishment

"You don't care about safety! All you guys want to do is suck money out of my pocket!"

Here was a speeder who was very definite in his opinion and not afraid to state it. He was wrong, I did care about safety, but my traffic cop toolbox didn't contain many officially sanctioned options for dealing with it.

When I saw a traffic violation, I really only had three options—ignore it, warn the driver for their behaviour or write them a ticket.

Which option I chose had a lot to do with the circumstances present. Was the action a danger to themselves or others? Would the driver benefit more from a warning and a few words of education or was it serious enough to warrant writing the ticket?

Sometimes, what the driver had to say at the roadside made it apparent they had no intention of following that particular driving rule in the future.

If the action was not significant and driver was receptive, the warning and an explanation of why they should not do that would brought the contact to a successful close. However, that only dealt with one particular driving behaviour and did not contribute to any further skill assessment and improvement.

Knowing that I was about to retire, I thought to myself, "What are they going to do, fire me?" So I wrote the ticket and after I had served it I told the driver I had a deal for him. Spend the cost of the ticket on himself at the driving school of his choice, bring me the receipt and I would run the ticket through the shredder.

He took the deal and returned to the detachment within a couple of weeks with the receipt. He said he had learned he was not shoulder checking properly, failed to turn out of and into the correct lane at intersections and wasn't coming to a proper stop at stop signs.

I handed him all copies of the ticket and told him that he could do what he wished with them.

A traffic court justice mentioned in a conversation we were had he wished more officers would do something like this as a form of restorative justice. He offered the example of the Victoria PD traffic unit and I was able to find a similar program run by the Surrey RCMP detachment.

Personally, I thought it neatly filled the commitment to the education goals of both the Canadian Road Safety Strategy and the B.C. Road Safety Strategy education element. This driver and those around him benefited far more from the driving school's advice than he would have learned from paying the $138 penalty for speeding.

Of course, he could have chosen to treat the ticket in the usual manner by payment or dispute but I think we were both pleased with this outcome.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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